Oil Prices Fall as US Crude Inventories Rise Further

Oil Prices Fall as US Crude Inventories Rise Further

Crude futures maintained losses Friday after oil-field services firm Baker Hughes Inc.(BHI) said the number of US rigs drilling for oil rose by 5 this week to 602.

"It's a battle between how quick OPEC can cut without shale catching up", Nunan said, referring to USA drilling in shale formations that has shown an upsurge this year.

Reduced supplies by OPEC resulted in higher prices for the Middle Eastern crude benchmark Dubai and narrower Brent/Dubai and WTI/Dubai spreads, which made the shipment of Brent-price-linked crude grades and USA crude shipments to Asia profitable. West Texas Intermediate futures (the domestic benchmark) are trading below the worldwide Brent standard by $2 per barrel or more, and are now cheaper than some Middle Eastern grades of lesser quality. U.S. crude oil inventories are at an all-time high. Total volume traded was about 23 per cent below the 100-day average.

The price of April futures for Brent crude oil has decreased by 0.71 percent to $56.18 per barrel as of 04:48 EST.

While prices extended gains by more than 2 percent soon after the inventory data was released, much of those advances dissipated over the next 30 minutes. WTI has averaged 22 cents below Dubai, a lower-quality grade that's the benchmark for Asia, this year, based on front-month swaps data from broker PVM Oil Associates Ltd.

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Crude stockpiles climbed by 564,000 barrels last week to 518.7 million barrels, the US Energy Information Administration reported yesterday. Brent prices declined further on Friday to $56.10 a barrel.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers outside the group, including Russian Federation, announced late previous year that they would cut output by nearly 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) during the first half of 2017, looking to drain a glut that pulled down prices from over $100 per barrel in 2014 to around $56.50 now (LCOc1). Oil exports from the world's biggest economy surged to a record and domestic production rose to 9 million barrels a day last week.

OPEC and producers including Russian Federation aim to cut production by around 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) to drain an oversupply that has kept prices depressed for more than two years.

Opec and its partners achieved 86 per cent of their agreed cuts last month, according to a statement on its website.